Evansville Town Council Members are considering a ban on using cell phones while driving unless they are being used in a hands-free manner.
Ordinance 1-2020 passed its first reading during the council’s Jan. 13 meeting. It will go up on second reading during the council’s Monday night meeting. Ordinance 1-2020 will have to pass the third reading to be enacted should it make it beyond its second reading.
The proposed ordinance specifically bans “holding or supporting” a cell phone while driving. It also prohibits reading, writing or sending text messages, scrolling social media along with watching or recording videos and other uses that could cause a distraction.
If passed, it will also be illegal to wear earbuds or headphones while driving in Evansville. The ordinance does not apply to vehicles that are legally parked.
Under the ordinance, using a phone in a hands-free manner is defined as having it hooked into Bluetooth or having it placed on a mount.
Violating the ordinance will be treated as a misdemeanor. The first violation of the proposed ordinance is punishable by a minimum fine of $75. A second violation is punishable by a minimum fine of $100. Any violations after that are punishable by a fine between $250 and $750 and the accused would have to appear before a municipal court judge.
If someone is in violation of the ordinance and causes a car wreck, they are subject to receiving a minimum fine of $550, even if it’s the first conviction.
Casper does not have a similar ordinance in place.
Currently, Wyoming law only prohibits sending written messages while driving. Several local governments throughout the Cowboy State, however, have passed more stringent laws against using phones while behind the wheel.
The proposed Evansville ordinance makes exceptions for using a handheld cellphone in an emergency or to report a crime. Exceptions are also made for first-responders using handheld phones in an official capacity.
If passed, drivers violating the ordinance would receive written warnings until August 30.